A lesson in democracy for Mrs Merkel (and her merry Merkelites around the Eurozone) by Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA’s leader

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Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece’s largest political party (SYRIZA), and the European Left’s candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission, has just given Mrs Merkel (and her merry disciples around the Eurozone) an important lesson in democracy.

In an official statement just issued (and reported by Euronews and Euroactiv) Tsipras argued that Mr J.C. Juncker, his conservative opponent (against whom he run for the said post), should be nominated by the heads of government to the European Parliament out of respect for democratic process. Tsipras felt he had to defend this basic democratic principle after Mrs Merkel declared that the heads of government (i.e. her good self) were not limited to the five candidates that actually presented themselves to European voters, debated in front of them, and sought their votes. Tsipras’ statement is an indictment of a European establishment that believes it has the divine right first to con Europe’s voters into thinking that they are going to the polls to select one of five candidates for the post of President of the European Commission and, then, to choose at will someone who never sought the popular vote. It is also a useful reminder of the fact that SYRIZA is a democratic, pro-European force that the global press can only portray as extremist and anti-EU at its own peril.

Here is Alexis Tsipras’ statement on the matter

Statement of Alexis Tsipras, Leader of the Opposition and the European Left candidate for the Presidency of the European Commission

According to European law, the European Parliament has the right to approve, and therefore the right to disapprove, the nominee presented to it for the Presidency of the European Commission by the Heads of State.

During the recent campaign, the electors of Europe were asked to express their choice among five candidates, each of them selected by the major European parties.  As candidates we campaigned, debated, and sought the votes of European citizens.

  • It is my position that the Council of Heads of State should not nominate any candidate for the Presidency of the Commission, who did not compete in this election.
  • It is my position that the European Parliament should not approve any candidate who did not compete in this election.
  • The presentation of any other nominee would have as its effect to discredit the entire recent election, turning it, after the fact, into a charade.
  • This is a basic democratic principle.  It is a moral obligation of the heads of government to put forward the candidate who secured the leading position in the European election.

During the campaign, I stood as the candidate of the European Left.  I stood in vigorous disagreement with the policies of the European People’s Party and of their candidate, Mr. Juncker.  Those disagreements stand, and they will stand.

Mr. Juncker’s party nevertheless won the election, and I have called him to offer my congratulations.

I therefore call on the Council of Heads of State to recommend Mr. Juncker to the Parliament, for the Presidency of the Commission.